Photojournalism: The Listening — On Authenticity

I'm going to let you in on a little secret:

I really don't care about photography for the sake of photography, disembodied from anything other than the desire to take a cool picture.

My background is in journalism and my heart is burried in novels, which means I'm all about slow-form #longreads with the goal of dipping the reader into a narrative to explore and reflect on what it means to be a person. Sure, that sounds kind of lofty, but I'm not really one to do anything halfway. All or nothing.

I use a similar approach for my photo taking. It's not enough to simply take a shot of something that happened, I want you to feel like you're there with me, experiencing the exchange of energy.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I was hired by Riverviews Artspace to cover The Listening's most recent performance session, where poets and musicians shared art based on the concept of authenticity

I've taken pictures at a few of The Listening's events, but this is the first time I put down my camera and picked up my guitar for one turn, and a sheet of typewritten poetry for another. Both pieces were meant to tie in with what I wrote in my guest blog post.

The first is a song I wrote to myself to help me calm my anxiety and to remind myself of what is most important. It's called "Focus on Breathing." I usually intro the tune with an a capella rendition of the Astanga Primary Series' Sanskrit opening invocation. It's designed to help practitioners quiet mental chatter before practice.

According to yoga teacher Kino MacGregor, the sonorous nature of the Sanskrit language is such that chanting or even simply listening to the mantra brings about this calming affect. So, in this instance, I sing the invocation both to quiet my nerves and to open listeners to what I say next:

Focus on Breathing (You Ought to Be)

Rise and fall again (we're spinning)
In infinite space.

But you'd rather
Choose to kill
Your own self if it suits
Your self-imagery pursuits.

But if silence
Is what you came for —
Well, you're never gonna get it
If you never shut the fuck up.

Rise and fall again (we're spinning)
In infinite space.

But if you focus
On what matters —
What goes in what goes out
Is what makes us who we are.

You'll be conscious,
You'll be free,
You'll be all the things you always suspected
You ought to be.

And I ought to be showing the pictures that I took at the event. I hope you enjoy — I hope you pick up on the love and intent with which the performers put themselves out there. It wasn't for money. It wasn't for fame. It's just humans being humans.


My name is Marcelo Asher Quarantotto.


I am a father of three beautiful daughters and husband to the most gracious, saintly creature I've ever met. (You'll find pictures of them here from time to time.) I am also a multidisciplinary storyteller.